Sometimes we miss things most when they are gone, and when Tyrone was missing a couple of weeks ago, there was a vacancy in McPherson Square. More than that, there was a cloud over my day, and I got a bit worried.
Every weekday morning he is there to greet me on my way to work. If you take the Metro to McPherson Square, you may know Tyrone, too. Or he may know you. I’m not exactly sure when he showed up, but I think it was during the renovation of the park last year. I was taking photos of the park on a daily (or so) basis, and one day I wasn’t taking a photo, he said,
Aren’t you takin my picture today?
That made me smile, and that wall, which is naturally between strangers, came down a bit.
Tyrone is a beautiful part of my day, which might seem weird because he is a man that sits on a bench all morning. But it’s about attitude. He is careful to greet everyone that goes by, on both sides of 15th Street. He says, “Good morning!” or “Hello precious!” or “Hi there you with the hat over there! I see you!”
He makes sure that all his friends know that he notices them, and everyone that walks by his bench — or within a 50-foot radius of his bench — is a friend of his.
People in the McPherson Square neighborhood also know the man that greets us in the evening, by saying “Quarters, dimes, nickels, dollars, spare change?” He’s been in the area for years.
Remember the man that used to stand outside of the Black Cat on 14th Street and chant “Black Cat, Black Cat!” before the doors opened as we lined up for shows? A friend just mentioned he isn’t there anymore.
Let me be clear, I don’t know all of Tyrone’s story. I am not a social worker. But I talked to him enough to find out that he was away because the heat aggravated his COPD, and he went somewhere for treatment. I’m not sure if he’s homeless or jobless or retired and he just likes to bring his suitcase to the park every day. I am not going to ask you to donate to his cause.
Just remember that these voices we hear on our way to work, on our way to the Metro, or on our way to the nightclub — they have names. This is Tyrone.